THE Government has assured learners that this year’s Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) June examinations will go ahead, noting the need for the education sector to adjust to the reality of Covid-19.
Schools in the country have remained closed for the first term after Government implemented a Level Four national lockdown, where only examination writing students were allowed back at school in January to complete their November national examinations.
Speaking during a press conference to announce the new Zimsec board last Wednesday, Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Cde Cain Mathema said despite schools having not yet opened for the first term, June examinations will go ahead as planned. He said it was inevitable that schools will eventually open for the first term and there will be implementation of a workplan that will see teachers preparing learners for all the scheduled examinations.
“What we have to accept is that Covid-19 is now a part of society and it is there to stay, therefore there is a need to ensure that all our programmes go ahead as scheduled and not allow Covid-19 to hinder us. It is therefore with this in mind that we say the June examinations will indeed go ahead as scheduled. When schools open there will be a clear schedule that will allow learners to adequately prepare for these exams,” said Minister Mathema.
He said there could be a slight shift of the examination dates to allow for adequate preparations for the students. The minister said they will soon be advising parents and learners on the planned dates, examination fees and deadlines for the payment of the examination fees.
Meanwhile, Minister Mathema said the ministry was working with all relevant stakeholders — inclusive of Zimsec and teachers’ unions — to ensure the smooth sailing of the school calendar.
“We are all ready and have put in place all the necessary preparations for the opening of schools and holding of the examinations. Our teams are busy as we speak, on the ground monitoring that all schools have in place the necessary measures to allow them to operate following the necessary Covid-19 protocols. The teachers’ unions have also assured us that teachers are also ready to go back to the classrooms therefore we can safely say that all is in place for the opening of schools for the first term, we are just waiting for guidance from President Mnangagwa regarding the Covid-19 lockdown measures, which will give us an idea on the actual opening dates,” said the minister.
Government continues to issue personal protective equipment and sanitisers to schools to ensure that when the date of reopening is announced, the schools’ environment will be safe for teachers, staff, parents and pupils.
Last week teams from the ministry were in Bulawayo to assess the readiness of schools in the province to reopen in line with Covid-19 prevention protocols. The ministry has in place standard operating procedures for all schools to protect learners, teachers and ancillary staff from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, Government has recruited 3000 teachers ahead of the opening of schools for the first term. The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education said apart from the new teachers, it has also approved 600 lateral transfers to Harare and Bulawayo Metropolitan provinces. Among the new recruitments, specialist teachers in the indigenous languages of Shangani, Tonga, Venda and Nambya were also employed as Government moves to affirm its position on the teaching of indigenous languages.
This comes as the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development has also stepped-up efforts to the training of teachers to specialise in indigenous languages at various institutions in the country.
Director of communications in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Mr Taungana Ndoro told Sunday News that more recruitments will be done when the Ministry assesses the situation prevailing at schools. According to a number of circulars sent to provincial education offices, the Ministry reportedly employed 1 940 infant teachers, 760 teachers for junior level, 261 teachers for secondary and 39 teachers for advanced level.